This new sub series on Basement Bar design is going to focus on various design elements you can consider for decorating your lounge. Today I’m going to talk about lighting and lit elements on the wall behind your bar. The wall behind your backbar is going to, as they say in advertising,
get a lot of eyeballs. Your friends will be leaning over your bar, and since your physical perfection is too awesome to behold for long, they will inevitably let their eyes rest on what is behind you. Use that space to set the desired atmosphere. In the Old West™, the usual back wall decoration was either a huge mirror or painting of a naked lady (see every old film and vintage Esquire cartoon). These options still hold a certain appeal to this day, though if your friends look like mine, the mirror option may not be for the best. But they lack a certain… contemporary modernity. I may come back later to post on back walls inspired by Narcissus or Bacchus, but for now let’s go with walls that feature light.
As will be the case with most of these posts, this one is prompted by a particular product or article or blog post. Scrounging around the Internet, I ran across Let’s Get Lit Candles (H/T: Liqurious) that makes candles out of used booze bottles.
This collage of photos made me think of some of the cool back walls of bars and lounges these days. You can do a lot with colored light, and various treatments of glass or plastic to diffuse that light. One of my favorite bars in Columbus is the massive one that overlooks the main room of M at Miranova, downtown.
The room is usually darker, which makes the colored wall stand out more. Also, the color shifts very slowly over time, from one jewel tone to the next. As an added feature, there is a flatscreen TV in the middle of the wall that shows environmental DVDs, but that is another post. It is beautiful and very atmospheric.
This would not be very hard to do in a high end Basement Bar either. (I haven’t done this, so do not take my word as gospel here!) Large sheet plexiglass can be purchased from places like here or here. You could get a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of frosted plexiglass for about $200. Frame it in with space behind for low power, low heat, long life LED lights (with color changing feature if you like). Then mount your shelves in front for a striking display.
A slightly less elaborate method is illuminated (har!) in this blog post at Landchark, another blog doing a series on Basement Bars.
These shelves are constructed in the same vein as the wall I proposed earlier. (Note the beer tap built into the wall. You can see it in the post.)
And for another idea, you could buy an old rear-projection television from your neighborhood technophile who wants rid of it so his wife will let him get a flat-screen. Build a platform behind your bar. Get nine very strong friends to help you lift it into place, then frame it in so only the screen shows and use this like the backlit wall I proposed initially. You could do color change DVDs, environmentals, or… um… the NFL network as atmospheric software. Treat it like a wall and put shelves in front of it. But make them removable for the World Series.
There are simpler methods of using light to highlight the wall behind your bar as well, such a spots, downlights, uplights, or shelves with lit candles from folks like Let’s Get Lit (Their candles are scented, so be careful of the olfactory cocktail you may be creating with several different bottles!).
I’ll leave you with one other back bar wall design that many of you will consider cool, and be tempted to riff on. Resist this temptation if you are single and wish to ever get laid, or married… and ever wish to get laid!
(Oh, and if you can make that sucker play the game for real, then I say forget my above advice and go for it!)
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Here’s a list of the other articles in this series that have been posted so far:
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